Tuesday, January 21, 2014

First use of the vacuum packer, and new chickens!

Let's start in reverse order of the title, chickens first! No small part of this being that chickens are more photogenic than vacuum packing rabbits! So, these are our two new girls that are with us thanks to the generous help of friends of a friend in the chicken community. Turns out there was a chicken convention not far from us this past weekend! If we'd known we'd have gone, so maybe next year we'll make our way there.

 Before continuing with the epic of the arrival of these two as of yet un named girls, I feel I should point out the attention of our cat behind them on the stairs. She got bored with them quickly, I don't think she knows that the chickens dwarf her! They're also probably smarter than she is, but the Lady of the House would protest that judgment! We are extremely thankful for these two girls, the folks who picked them up went to a fair amount of trouble to find birds that fit what we wanted, and then were apologetic they could only get two when they had a car accident (somewhat jumbled, but it sounds like a sign through their windshield!) and couldn't get 4 more for us. Thankfully no one was hurt, and the chickens are greatly appreciated! Right now they are staying inside with us because with the nights in the negatives I didn't want to put them in the coop which is a bit large for two birds. Better safe and slightly inconvenienced than sorry with two frozen birds. So for now they're in Rico's travel dog crate on top of the rat cage. We'll be moving them out to the studio to acclimate to colder temperatures again when the temperatures aren't in the negatives. We'll take below freezing as fine! Even so, the house is in the 55 - 60 range anyhow so they aren't getting totally spoiled.

Below this is vacuum packing rabbits! It's not bloody, but it is rabbit carcasses. You've been warned!
So, this is the vacuum packer that the Lady of the House's father gave me for Christmas. It's the same thing he uses to pack up fish from his fishing trips, and they store MUCH better that way than our poor rabbits have in zip lock bags no matter how carefully we squeeze as much air out as we can. The vacuum packer came with a good solid set of easy to use instructions, so I don't think a walk through on how to do it is needed because it tells you everything about that! It had one really nice trick though that might help even with non vacuum packed meat. Note the white in the pictures up near the sealing area? That's a slightly rolled up paper towel. It helps absorb some of the moisture away from the rabbit. It also helps keep the moisture from preventing a good seal. Obviously the good seal is important for the same reason that zip lock bags aren't really sufficient for protecting rabbits in the freezer for long storage. I'm really happy to use this for a number of reasons, one of them being this litter that we just killed and butchered was HUGE.


This Saturday I processed Twilight's litter, and they were just gigantic compared to some of the litters over the summer. Some of that is killing them at something like 4 months because I've been too busy to do killing and processing, part of it is of course, Twilight. Two kits in with her were Halley and Comet kits that we'd fostered to her because they were tiny. Well, as of killing time they were bigger than any of the kits still with Halley and Comet! There's a few possible reasons for this, and it's probably a combination of reasons. One of them is that Twilight's a good mother, and another that was suggested by the folks over at Crabapple Farm is that Twilight is a year older and more experienced than Halley and Comet which does make a difference in the mothering! Sort of a no duh when you think about it, but we hadn't really thought about that as a possible reason for her kits to be bigger. But, that's the processed rabbits in the vacuum bags. It'll be a while before we get to eating those because we're going to eat every rabbit in a ziplock before we touch the vacuum packed ones.

As a side note, we left one of Twilight's daughters in with her to help her keep warm, and to potentially keep in with her for pair breeding if they get along that way. We'll see how that works out.

That's all for now, but there's a lot going on, or about to go on. It's starting to be time to ramp up and get ready for spring despite the below zero temperatures and regular snow!

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